From a family of creative entrepreneurs, Grace Boyega is forging her way in the world as a stylist and fashion designer with a message. Boyega’s love for fashion started young and has grown into her own brand Blackurve, the brand where “all styles suit all.” Boyega chats with Qweens founder, Elizabeth Oloidi about her journey in the world of fashion and designing, as a plus-size black woman, and her future projects for her other creative venture, producing and directing.
When and where did you start your company?
I started working on Blackurve fulltime from October 2018 conceived the idea 2017 when I officially registered the company.
What inspired you to start Blackurve?
I started this clothing line and movement due to some personal weight issues. As a curvy black woman, yes, we have the plus size range which majority if not all stores have, but I feel we are still limited in choice of fashionable clothing, you don’t really see the same collection for average sizes 0-12 also emulated in and for the plus size range.
How did you come up with the name “Blackurve”?
Goes without saying I’m a curvy black woman plus I always wore black.
And the inspiration behind your brand’s logo?
Literally, that was me, a curvy thick black woman who always wore black.
Why did you want to start with hoodies?
The hoodies are just merchandise to generate funds for the company. We actually design our own garments. We have Blackurve Couture, limited edition custom pieces and Blackurve everyday wear.
How did your love for fashion start?
My parents have always told me stories about dressing up when I was younger and how I’d change my clothes at least two or three times a day just because I wanted to change my outfit, so it’s safe to say my love for fashion started at a young age but who remembers. I’d say I’ve always been a fashion lover but started taking it seriously when I conceived the idea of Blackurve. I’m a lover of nice things too, shopping is my hobby online, in-store, window (shopping) I’m there, it’s my therapy!
What does representation mean for you, in the fashion industry?
Representation in the industry to me is obviously having an equal seat at the table when it comes to EVERYTHING in fashion. It’s about being heard without having to shout. The doors are slowly cracking open, but we’re not all the way there yet.
Why do you think it’s so important to have representation in the fashion industry, not only from the models but the products sold?
Plus size and curvy people are humans too period, and all forms of the human race should be represented no questions asked, no matter what industry you’re trying to get into. It’s down to humanity first before anything else, to be honest.
What sets your brand apart from others on the market?
The actual market I’m focused on, which is plus size/curvy.
What is your brand’s main message?
No size fits all, but all styles suit all.
How do you stay motivated as an entrepreneur?
It’s all about self-motivation, to be honest, we are our biggest supporters no one can support us like we should because we understand our visions to a T. You stay motivated by understanding your own journey without comparing it to others, enjoying the process, making mistakes and knowing it’s okay!
Did you always want to be a designer and own a clothing brand? If not, what gave you the push to do it?
Always! It was one of the jobs from my list of jobs-to-do, along with directing, producing and others; I’m an all-around creative.
Were there times you were discouraged from starting/continue your company?
100 percent, even till this day! There are a number of issues one faces when starting a company, finding funding being the major one, especially for a business like mine money is a crucial tool for making it work. Struggled with raising capital, started a Kickstarter page and took it down because I literally got no backing. So I put out the hoodies to generate an income, made a few sales but again it didn’t go as well as I wanted it to go, so I ended up burying my head in the sand and put working on the clothing line on hold.
How did you get your head out of the sand, so-to-speak?
Long story short I feel when you have passion for something it’s hard to just walk away and because I had already put it out there, I thought I had no other option but to continue working on it.
What is something you know now, you wished you knew when you first launched Blackurve?
There’s no rush! To be honest, it’s not that I didn’t know, but we put so much pressure on ourselves when trying to accomplish something because we feel we have to be at a particular place at a certain time which isn’t true. Enjoy every moment. The setbacks, failures it’s all part of the process.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is smart-casual with a hint of sexy!
What’s next for you and Blackurve? What’s next for you?
What’s next for Blackurve, the official launch this year by God’s Grace!! For me, the release of the docu-series and the start of my talk show on mental health.
Speaking of your docu-series, can you tell us a bit about it?
Yeah sure, Not Defeated is a movement tackling issues such as Mental Health, educate others on the different types of mental illnesses such as depression, stress, anxiety to name a few, and to address and break the stigma around mental health within the black community.
Why do you feel it’s important to talk about mental health, especially in the black community?
Talking is one of the steps to healing... what a lot of us tend to do is bottle everything up inside and pretend everything’s okay which is a detriment and could have you acting out on impulse like I did. Then I went into therapy which is literally a session where you just talk, and the release that comes with it, the feeling of being heard and understood even in the midst of all the madness is priceless.
Do you think the fashion industry plays a part in mental health, especially amongst the youth?
When you live in a world pretty much controlled by social media, of course, it plays a part. The fact that you’ve got to look a certain way, dress a certain way to “fit in” If it doesn’t come naturally to you you’ll definitely get lost in the act which plays a part on your psyche.
What is one piece of advice you would give other black fashion entrepreneurs?
Don’t overthink it, just do it!
Who inspires you most?
My brother (John). Having watched him grind hard to be where he’s at now has really inspired me to go for what I want. He saw many doors close in his face, heard many no’s but kept on pushing. His persistence and drive are very inspirational.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what are three things you would need to have with you?